AN OPEN HEAVEN                                      

David Orton 

At particular turning points of history a window opens and heaven is poured out. God localizes his presence over the life of an individual, a church, a city, or nation in outpoured blessing and power, in what we often call revival. They are special moments of time when heaven touches earth. Jesus taught that this is the one true object of prayer when he instructed us to ask, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven". Which of us does not want this – to live under an open heaven, to revel in an unhindered experience of heaven on earth?

But what does this look like and how does it actually work? In this teaching we will first describe what an open heaven is and secondly prescribe how it may be experienced.

What is an Open Heaven?

An open heaven can be described as an unhindered manifestation in the earth of all that heaven is, of God’s own presence and glory. Natural laws can be temporarily or permanently suspended as heaven breaks in. Signs and wonders, miracles and healings, revelations and unusual manifestations of power begin to occur. To varying degrees poverty, sickness, disease, and human degradation are driven back by the overpowering love of God. The most unlikely are swept into the kingdom and significant wealth can flow into the church.

Generally these seasons are characterized by at least four things: revelation, visitation, habitation, and inundation.

The Stairway to Heaven

First, revelation. Jesus "read Nathaniel’s mail". Seeing him, in the spirit, under the fig tree he revealed his inner nature as a man without guile. Despite being stunned by this amazing revelation Jesus promised him, "You shall see greater things than that…you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man" (Jn 1:50, 51).

Jesus is referring here to Jacob’s dream of Genesis 28. Falling asleep Jacob saw a ladder resting on the earth with its top reaching into heaven – a stairway to heaven. By this means the angels of God were ascending and descending. Jesus is now the means by which heaven and earth communicate. Through him heaven comes to earth – ministering spirits are sent to men below bearing the commands and comforts of our heavenly Father. And in turn they bear the prayers and praises of the saints back to heaven. In Christ a divine interchange is now possible between heaven and earth.

Angelic visitations, dreams, visions, and prophecies are all characteristics of an open heaven. An open and supernatural communication occurs. This is the "normal" Christian life. As Paul testified, "I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know – God knows" (2 Cor 12:2). For those "in Christ" supernatural encounters are to be expected. And when kairos moments occur in the life of an individual, church, or even a nation they only increase in their intensity and incidence. We are in such a time.

Turning Points in History

Second, visitation. An open heaven occurs during turning points in history to increase Christ’s kingdom in the earth.

At the commencement of Jesus public ministry he was baptized and as, "he went up out of the water…heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased’" (Mtt 3:16, 17). As the pattern Son this foreshadows a moment in history when the Body of Christ, the church, reaches the fullness of the stature of Christ (see Ephesians 4:11-13) – maturity. The heavens will increasingly open over the corporate Christ in greater seasons of divine visitation and blessing as it approaches this time.

Already through increased manifestations of his glory the Father is beginning to declare, "Hey, this is my boy – this is my church, this is the corporate Christ, in whom I’m pleased!" Just as "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, who then went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil" (Acts 10:38) he will also anoint the corporate Christ with even greater effect. For he has promised, "greater works shall you do because I go to the Father" (Jn 14:12).

The heavens were also opened when Stephen was killed as the first martyr: "Stephen full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’" (Acts 7:55, 56). At this the members of the Sanhedrin covered their ears screaming and rushed upon him, stoning him to death. Religious spirits will always resist an open heaven. But immediately the church was scattered from Jerusalem through the persecution and the word spread into Judea and Samaria. Through an open heaven the kingdom was increased.

When it was time for the gospel to go out to the Gentiles the heavens were again opened. Peter, falling into a trance "saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners" (see Acts 10:9-23). Through this open-heaven revelation, the door opened to the Gentiles. Peter was shown he was not to declare unclean what God had declared clean. A whole new chapter of God’s purpose for the earth began.

This generation has been called to live under an open heaven. Never before has the door to the Gentiles been as open as it is right now. This is the time to be pressing into God for an open-heaven revelation and outpouring – for an increase of the supernatural and therefore of Christ’s kingdom in the earth.

The House of Prayer

Third, habitation. When Jacob awoke from seeing the heavens opened and a ladder with angels ascending and descending his response was, "WOW!" He said, "’Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it. He was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven…He called that place Bethel…" (Gen 28:16-19).

 When God visits he comes to stay. He is not only interested in visitation but also habitation. He is looking for a place to dwell. Somewhere he can call home, where he can kick back, and relax. An environment that answers to who he is. So, what creates that environment? What kind of house does he want to live in? One that’s filled with intercessory worship. Jesus said that, "My Fathers house shall be called a house of prayer".

So, an open heaven is marked by a significant increase in the spirit of prayer and of worship. No church growth program, city reaching strategy, or "anointed" entertainment will ever build the house that God lives in. He will only dwell with the humble and contrite of spirit. If we understood the implications of this we would be on our faces. Just because we call ourselves "church" does not guarantee that we are, in fact, the house of God! The Lord continues to cry out to this generation, "’Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?' declares the Lord. ‘This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word’" (Isa 66:1, 2).

The Wealth of the Nations

Fourth, inundation. "The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. The Lord will make you the head and not the tail…"
(Deut 28:12, 13).

When we are living under an open heaven not only is the Spirit outpoured but we can often also

experience increased financial blessing. While not always the case increased spiritual outpouring can signal increased financial outpouring. It is possible though to experience the one without the other. Why is this? Space doesn’t permit us to explore this in-depth suffice to say that there are a number of reasons including: timing issues, spiritual warfare, a special dealing of God, reaping and sowing, the trial of faith, purity of motive, and curses.

Despite these exceptional circumstances we can be assured from Scripture that God desires to bless his children materially (see Psa 65:9-13; 68:10; Isa 60:5-9; Jer 31:12; 2 Cor 8:9). As his glory increases on the church this will be manifested by increased financial blessing for the sake of the gospel. The heavens belong to the Lord but the earth he has given to the sons of men. With the increase of revival there will be an accompanying release of the earth’s resources to the work of God. In fact, under an open heaven there is a transfer of wealth as the abundance of the nations flows into the house of God. Where previously there has been financial struggle suddenly, with an open heaven, the floodgates of provision are opened and the kingdom moves forward.

 However, I must sound a warning. This does not necessarily imply an increase of personal wealth, although obviously this can happen. What I am saying is that under an open heaven "no one will claim that any of their possessions are their own" (see Acts 4:32). Neither am I implying a community of goods, although some may be called to this. Under an open heaven there is though such a fundamental inner change that material things have no hold. In obedience to the Spirit they can be released for the benefit of the gospel. We can therefore be trusted with substantial material increase.

 Now, how do we experience an open heaven?

Faith & Patience

First, by faith and patience. The times and seasons belong to the Lord. There is a sovereignty factor in the timing of God that is beyond our control. There are always divine delays in the fulfillment of the promise. Abraham was called to hold onto the promises for some 25 years before they were finally realized (see Heb 6:11-15). Entering the full experience of an open heaven whether personally, as a ministry, or as the larger Body of Christ is dependent on the Father’s own timetable. The seasons of refreshing and restoration are determined by him. But in the meantime we are pressed into God as we wait in humility and faith.

Resting in the Work of Christ

Second, by resting in the work of Christ. Through his death, burial, resurrection, and ascension he "has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand – with angels, authorities and powers being made subject to him" (1 Pet 3:22). He has already opened the heavens on our behalf (see Heb 3:14; 6:20; 8:1; 9:24). The work has already been done. No amount of ascetic activity, or fleshly striving can ever improve on what Christ has already perfectly completed.

Obeying the Great Commandment

Third, by obeying the "Great Commandment". The promise of open heavens is conditional: "The Lord will open the heavens…if you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God…" (Deut 28:12-13). But what are those commands? Jesus provided the answer when he was asked which was the greatest commandment. Quoting from the "shema" (Deuteronomy 6) he answered, "Hear, O Israel, … Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength"(Mk 12:29).

Being under an open heaven, above all else, is a love relationship. The Father is preparing a worshipping bride who at the climax of history will stand under an open heaven. She will enjoy unhindered communion and enter the full benefits of all that Christ has purchased through his passion.

We are now living in that climax of history. Now is the time, through faith and patience, to appropriate the promise of an open heaven. Let us therefore labour to enter Christ’s rest, obeying the commandment to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.



Duplication and re-transmission of this writing is permitted provided that
complete source and website information for Lifemessenger is included.
Thank you. Copyright © David Orton 2002